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Cookin’ from Scratch will appear on Travel Channel show December 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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The Cookin’ from Scratch restaurant off Route 66 in Doolittle, Mo., will be featured in an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Truck Stop Missouri,” according to The Rolla Daily News.

According to the newspaper:

A segment on the Doolittle restaurant’s recent Route 66 Burger Challenge was filmed last week [...] and a followup session was recorded Tuesday at the Phelps County site.

The focus of the show is on the Route 66 Burger Challenge that began in February at Cookin’ From Scratch.

The challenge featured a 66-ounce King of the Road burger. Those willing to take on the task had 66 minutes to finish their meal. The contest drew diners from throughout the region.

Leftfield Pictures, based in New York, was filming the segment. Leftfield has also produced “Pawn Stars” and “American Restoration,” both on the History Channel.

“Truck Stop Missouri” takes place mostly at the Midway Travel Plaza off Interstate 70 near Columbia. The truck stop also boasts an eating challenge — 70 ounces of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Here’s one brave soul who conquered Cookin’ from Scratch’s King of the Road challenge:

Typical day at Carl’s Drive-In December 17, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, History, Restaurants.
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Rich Dinkela of HookedonRoute66.com filmed this slice-of-life video at the typically busy Carl’s Drive-In restaurant in Rock Hill, Mo.

Carl’s remains one of the treasures of the old Manchester Road alignment of Route 66 in the St. Louis area. Carl’s has fewer than 20 stools to serve its customers, and nearly all of them are filled throughout a typical day of operation.

Norma Maret Bolin’s excellent “Route 66 St. Louis” book contains a lot of interesting stories and history about Carl’s, including these:

  • The building was built in the 1920s as a gas station.
  • It became the Foot Long Hot Dog Company in the mid-1930s, then the Good Food Drive Inn during the 1950s.
  • It became Carl’s Drive-In in 1959.
  • Carl’s uses the original recipe to make its draft root beer, which reputedly became the basis behind the nationally distributed IBC Root Beer.

A beer for the road December 7, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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Plenty of microbreweries operate on or near Route 66 to help travelers quench their thirst after a day of motoring on America’s most famous highway.

But in Flagstaff, Ariz., a new microbrewery actually takes its inspiration from Route 66 itself.

The Mother Road Brewing Co. offers at least three beers that take their inspiration from Route 66 landmarks or the road itself.

Best of all, the brewery is situated at 7 S. Mikes Pike (map here), an older alignment of Route 66 in Flagstaff.

Here are three brews currently offered by Mother Road Brewing Co. The first is Roadside American Ale. The label features an image of the “Here It Is!” billboard at Jackrabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Ariz.

The second is Twin Arrows Brown Ale, inspired by the giant twin arrows at the now-defunct Twin Arrows Trading Post in Twin Arrows, Ariz.

The third is Gold Road Kolsch-Style Ale, which takes its name from the Gold Road near the mines of Oatman, Ariz.

Mother Road Brewing also will offer seasonal beers.

According to the company’s website:

Mother Road Brewing Company’s name was chosen with our service philosophy in mind. The Mother Road was John Steinbeck’s name for U.S. Highway 66 (Route 66) when it carried many migrant workers away from the Oklahoma Dustbowl in the 1930s.  The compassion and service demonstrated by the roadside businesses and government camps to the migrants is one we strive to mirror in our Tap Room, at events, and with our distributors.  Our goal is to provide excellent beer and outstanding service to each of our guests whether they are regulars or visiting once.

The brewery is focused on production and distribution.  Our beers are available in 12 ounce bottles and in sixth barrel (torpedos) and half barrel kegs.  We are distributed in Arizona by the Fred Nackard Wholesale Beverage Company.  We will expand into the Phoenix and Tucson markets and surrounding states as production increases in 2013.

We are located in the Milum Building on Mikes Pike, an original portion of U.S. Highway 66 until it was realigned to travel under the railroad line one block west.  The Milum Building was built by the Milum family in the 1920s and housed a commercial laundry, which they operated, up until the late 1990s.

According to the company’s blog, the Tap Room at the brewery opened only about two weeks ago. In fact, Mother Road Brewing Co. is scheduled to have a Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting tomorrow.

The Tap Room is open from 3 to 7 p.m. daily. Tours are available by request or appointment by calling 928-774-9139.

Satchmo’s BBQ and Pizzacletta in Flagstaff also serve the beer on tap.

Mother Road Brewing Co. can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE 12/11/2011: The Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff posted a story about the brewery.

(Images courtesy of Mother Road Brewing Co.; hat tips to Mike Ward and Roger Naylor)

“Man vs. Food Nation,” Route 66 edition September 27, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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The Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food Nation” recently did a Route 66 segment that included Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis, Idle Spurs Steakhouse in Barstow, Calif., and Elote Cafe in Tulsa.

Here’s the full episode, in two parts:

The segment includes Elote’s formidable Puffy Taco Challenge.

The Albuquerque collection of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” September 25, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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A few segments of the Food Network’s popular show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” have escaped my attention. Here’s one I’ve collected of the ones that are on Route 66 in Albuquerque.

The Standard Diner:

Monte Carlo Liquors & Steak House:

Sophia’s Place:

A culinary tour September 12, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Road trips, Signs.
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The Food Channel (not to be confused with the Food Network) posted this clip about many restaurant signs along the Mother Road and some non-food landmarks as well.

Food magazine devotes entire issue to Route 66 August 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Food, Magazines, Restaurants, Road trips, Web sites.
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Popular Plates magazine is devoting its current issue to food and restaurants along Route 66. This particular magazine boasts the added cachet of employing Michael and Jane Stern, authors of the popular “Roadfood” book and website, as the editors.

The magazine is 96 pages and costs $9.99. It will be on sale at bookstores and other retailers (I found it Saturday in a grocery) through Oct. 3.

The magazine’s content includes a forward written by the Sterns, a history and overview of Route 66, 12 must-stop dining places on the Mother Road, an advertorial about a trip on Route 66 in three General Motors vehicles, specific food specialties from Chicago to Los Angeles, and more than 75 recipes inspired by Route 66′s regions.

The last part contains how-to-make instructions on cowboy caviar, Navajo lamb and hominy chili, horseshoe sandwiches, buttermilk pie, and even an old-fashioned beer-battered brain sandwich.

The magazine is sprinkled with short sidebar stories about Route attractions. And the photography is gorgeous and even scrumptious. I nearly groaned with hunger when I saw a close-up image of a slice of Texas pecan pie.

An inside look at Popular Plates' Route 66 issue.

Some of the content from the Route 66 issue can be found online here. But the dead-tree issue is worth your money and time — especially with longtime road warriors such as the Sterns guiding the way.

You also can order the Route 66 issue from Popular Plates here.

Pinto Bean Museum opens soon in Edgewood August 20, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Food, Museums.
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The Historic Pinto Bean Museum opens next weekend during the annual Harvest Festival inside the Wildlife West Nature Park complex just off Route 66 in Edgewood, N.M.

The museum was funded in part by a grant from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. The Harvest Festival weekend starts the evening of Friday, Aug. 26.

Roger Alink, executive director of Wildlife West, said during a telephone interview that the Historic Pinto Bean Museum includes an original pinto bean barn, now used by the park for weddings, dances and other events:

The museum itself sits in a building on the side of the barn. Alink says it contains pinto bean processing machines and tools, a timeline on the historical use of pintos dating to 2000 B.C., and other displays:

Pinto beans have long been a key part of the agricultural economy in central New Mexico. In fact, the nearby Route 66 town of Moriarty hosts a Pinto Bean Fiesta each year. Moriarty also tags itself as the Pinto Bean Capital of the World.

Alink says the museum is accessible to visitors with regular admission fees to the Wildlife West Nature Park.

(Photos courtesy of Roger Alink; hat tip to Duke City Fix)

“Serving homemade food from scratch” August 6, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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I’m glad to see this finally show up on YouTube: the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives” paid a visit to Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe on Route 66 in Victorville, Calif., a few years ago.

The food is fabulous, and the retro atmosphere at the restaurant almost matches it.

Using video to sell books August 1, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Food, Restaurants.
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This sounds counterintuitive, but publishers and authors are using videos and other multimedia to help promote the written word.

That includes Ron Chavez, former owner of the famed but long-closed Club Cafe on Route 66 in Santa Rosa, N.M. He posted a video on YouTube today to promote his 2008 collection of short stories and poems, “Time of Triumph”:

My review of “Time of Triumph” can be read here.

Chavez also is selling his latest book, “Winds of Wildfire,” through his website. And lest you think Chavez has abandoned his culinary talents, he also is selling mix for his award-winning red chile salsa.

A new wrinkle on Wrink’s Market July 19, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, Businesses, Food, History, Museums, People, Radio, Restaurants.
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For an all-too-brief period, Terry Wrinkle resurrected Wrink’s Market, the longtime Route 66 business in Lebanon, Mo., owned and operated by his late father Glenn Wrinkle.

When Terry shut down the business in 2009, the future of the building looked cloudy.

However, in recent weeks, the old Wrink’s Market has found new life with D.C. Decker’s Cowboy Emporium, which operates as a part restaurant, part art museum, and part western museum.

The restaurant part is tucked into a corner of the Wrink’s building, where “healthy” sandwiches are served with about a dozen varieties Arbuckle Mountain fried pies.

Decker’s also serves and is a supplier of Arbuckle’s Ariosa Coffee, “the coffee that won the West.”

The museum part includes a lot of Old West memorabilia, including a genuine 1896 Hickory chuckwagon.

Decker once was a custom boot maker. Some of his handiwork sits on the shelves.

And the store contains plenty of western-themed art for sale.

The proprietor is Don Decker, an expert on the culture and history the Old West and American Indians.

He once hosted a radio show in Arizona, and said he assisted “Route 66: The Mother Road” author Michael Wallis when Wallis was researching a book about Cherokee Nation chief Wilma Mankiller.

Decker is happy to show you around and tell stories. Don’t be surprised if you stick around longer than you thought — a common but happy problem with the many characters who inhabit Route 66.

(D.C. Decker’s Cowboy Emporium is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. It is in the old Wrink’s Market off Exit 130 of Interstate 44. The phone number is 951-219-0813. Don Decker also is on Facebook here.)

Illinois-only store opens in Carlinville July 2, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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A store that specializes only in Illinois-made products operates in a former post office building on the historic downtown square of Carlinville, Ill., according to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Carlinville — and its square — had an alignment of Route 66 from 1926 to 1932.

It’s called Market on the Square, run by a husband-and-wife team of Nathan Payne and Aimee Arseneaux-Payne.

In a back room of the store, refrigerated cases hold the Paynes’ naturally grown green onions, Bibb lettuce, turnips and other vegetables, plus milk, cheese and eggs from Illinois farms.

The main room of the light-filled store holds goods from more than 90 Illinois producers. About 60 percent of the inventory is food; the rest is soaps, lotions, jewelry, pottery, textiles, fused glass, candles and other handmade items. [...] The store carries beer and soda from Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Co. and beer from Big Muddy Brewing in Murphysboro.

He also noted potato chips from Rockford-based Mrs. Fisher’s, dry soup mixes from Frontier Soups in Waukegan, Chicago-based Mullen’s applesauce, Crestwood’s Anisi honey wafers and Springfield-based Onofrio’s marinara sauces.

“This is the only spaghetti sauce we use,” Payne said about the Sicilian-style red sauces created by Joe and Linda Jannazzo, owners of the Track Shack restaurant in Springfield.

The Paynes say they get the occasional Route 66 tourist visit their store, but most of their clients are locals.

Market on the Square has a Facebook page here.

A Bobcat Bite burger May 17, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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An earlier report about green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico reminded me of the Bobcat Bite restaurant, on an very old alignment of Route 66 in Santa Fe.

This excellent clip from a documentary shows how these great burgers are made:

A burger too good to be at just one place May 17, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants.
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A green chile cheeseburger created eight years at a market in the tiny Route 66 town of Laguna, N.M., has garnered so much acclaim, it’s listed in the state tourism department’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail and the sandwich has been replicated at two other nearby locations, reported the Cibola County Beacon.

The Laguna Burger, as it’s called, was started at the Dancing Eagle Supermarket in Laguna. The burger also can be found at the 66 Pit Stop at Exit 140 of Interstate 40 and a newly remodeled 66 Pit Stop at in Laguna, at Exit 114 of I-40.

According to the Beacon’s story:

The Exit 114 66 Pit Stop had added to its building and can now seat approximately 50, including seating on a outdoor patio. [...] The store only had six counter stools. [...] On Saturday, May 21, the store in Laguna is hosting a grand opening from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event includes a Muscle Car Show of 15 autos. Store license plates will given to people who buy a Laguna Burger.

“With the expansion we hope to set the stage for the burger to grow in popularity,” explained LDC Chief of Retail Operations Earl Carrasco. “In the coming years our goal is to see more opportunities to grow the franchise as a result of this expansion.”

The Laguna Burger is one-half pound of ground beef delivered fresh everyday. The renovation includes a much-needed grill three times the size of the old one. The old grill could only fit nine burgers, the new one can accomodate 27.

Currently, the girls make 90 patties a day at the Laguna store, the busiest of the three, “And if we need more, no problem,” said Charlies Archuleta, Director of LDC Store Operations. “We will make them on the spot.”

Apparently the burger accounts for 90 percent of the Laguna store’s sales. And don’t ask for a recipe — it’s a secret. The Laguna Burger also has fared well in the New Mexico State Fair’s green chile cheeseburger competition.

This blog post covers the Laguna Burger at one of the 66 Pit Stops very well, including photos.

All three locations of the Laguna Burger are part of the Laguna Development Corp.

New Mexico Tourism is producing an updated Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail, which will be unveiled May 26. However, the 2009 listing included a number of locations on Route 66, including the famous Bobcat Bite in Santa Fe. In a pinch, the New Mexico-based Blake’s Lotaburger chain will do nicely.

Midpoint Cafe placed on the market May 13, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Food, Gas stations, People, Restaurants.
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Fran Houser has put her Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, up for sale after a 20-year tenure in which she elevated it to a prime stop for travelers on Route 66.

Houser said in a phone interview Friday that the asking price is $195,000. Those interested should call her home phone at 806-538-6380.

The Midpoint, formerly known as Jesse’s Cafe, is touted as the halfway mark of Route 66 between Chicago and Santa Monica, and also gained nationwide notice for the restaurant’s small-town hospitality and its delicious “ugly crust pies.”

Houser also gained fame when she served as an inspiration to the Flo character in the original Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie in 2006.

Houser said she still enjoys meeting with Route 66 travelers. But she said she and longtime helper Joann Harwell have encountered some physical problems in recent years. Houser said a visit with her daughter in April convinced her to travel more and do other things “while I have time.”

Houser said she planned to open a western-wear store in an old gas station next to the Midpoint Cafe after the restaurant is sold. “I don’t want to lose contact with the Route 66 people,” she said.

As for the restaurant’s financial viability, she noted that customer numbers are looking great so far this tourist season, and that Midpoint already is being booked for tours for 2012.

Grease the wheels May 11, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in bicycling, Food, Restaurants.
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This is an enjoyable program called “Greaseweek,” where our intrepid cyclist starts on Route 66 from Pasadena, Calif., all the way to the end of Route 66 in Santa Monica.

I also learned a few things. For instance, I didn’t know the Arroyo Seco sported a bicycle trail, and I’ll have to investigate the Lucky Boy and Big Dean’s restaurants.

Rolling out the Red Carpet May 7, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Food, Towns.
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Today produced a plethora of news stories about the Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival. Of course, when you essentially are holding a party in 13 towns along 90 miles of the Mother Road, it will draw media attention.

A roundup of the news items:

WJBC radio filed this report from Pontiac, which focuses on the town’s salute to late Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire. Organizers are painting a large mural in his honor, and Waldmire’s school-bus house and Volkswagen minibus will be on display. Five waywide exhibits also were dedicated at the historic Illinois Highway 4 bridge, which served as an early alignment of Route 66.

— Joliet chilled out by handing out a huge number of Dilly Bars. The city is marking its history as the home of the first Dairy Queen. Another ceremony involving DQ executives will be held May 20.

— The Bloomington Pantagraph filed this report from nearby Lexington.

— Livingston County Master Gardeners are taking advantage of the crowds from the festival to hold its annual plant sale in downtown Pontiac.

I’ll post more stories Sunday if more arrive.

“Man vs. Food” host visits World’s Largest Rocker March 25, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Restaurants, Television.
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Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” program, yesterday visited Fanning 66 Outpost on Route 66 in Fanning, Mo., including the complex’s World’s Largest Rocker.

Sure enough, Fanning Outpost has posted on its Facebook page several photos of Richman, including having a seat on the rocker.

Richman wasn’t there to take on an eating challenge, like he usually does on the show. According to Jane Reed of nearby Cuba, Mo., he was passing through, and visited with the folks in the store.

Richman likely was going to film a segment at the Cookin’ With Scratch restaurant down the road Newburg, Mo., with its 66-ounce burger challenge, Reed said. The challenge is to eat all this in 66 minutes or less — the 66-ounce hamburger patty loaded with cheese and other toppings, a 1.25-pound homemade bun, and 1.5 pounds of fries.

Earlier in the week Richman was in downtown Tulsa to film a segment at Elote Cafe. If you eat 25 of Elote’s puffy tacos in one sitting, they’re free.

Elote sits just a few blocks from Tulsa’s downtown Route alignment.

La Posada chef receives prestigious nomination March 19, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Food, Motels, Restaurants.
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John Sharpe, chef of the Turquoise Room restaurant in the historic La Posada hotel in Winslow, Ariz., received a nomination as one of the country’s best chefs by the James Beard Foundation, according to the Arizona Republic.

Sharpe is one of the 20 semifinalists — including those in Aspen, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas — for the prestigious honor. He’ll find Monday whether he’s one of five finalists for the best chef in the Southwest. Winners will be announced May 9 in New York City.

This excerpt about Sharpe’s more-utilitarian approach stands out:

The Turquoise Room is in La Posada, the only hotel amid all the roadside motels in Winslow, and Sharpe must make sure his food fits its guests: a mix of international travelers and RV tourists. He also caters to the blue-collar tastes of local ranchers and railroad workers.

“This is not a ‘just doing dinner and high-end food to impress everybody,’ ” he said. “This is not just a chef trying to show off.”

It means Sharpe can’t simply focus on the blackberry sauce for his bison short ribs, or the consistency of the mashed Gilfeather rutabagas that will be the bed for the steelhead trout. He must sometimes flip burgers.

The whole article is worth reading — about owner Alan Affeldt saving La Posada (a former Harvey House) from the wrecking ball, the suspicion that locals regarded the English-born Sharpe, how he trains his staff but encourages them to be themselves, how he uses local produce and meat when he can (including churro lamb from Navajo Indians).

I’ve found Sharpe’s restaurant to be extremely creative, and recommend it highly. If you’re curious about what he serves, you can peruse his menus online. Sharpe also published a Turquoise Room cookbook a few years ago.

Looking over the Beard list, I found one other chef nominated for a restaurant directly on an early alignment of Route 66 — Restaurant Martin in Santa Fe. Other restaurants nominated that aren’t on Route 66 can be found in St. Louis, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But Sharpe’s nomination for his Turquoise Room is made even more impressive by how far off the beaten path it is.

UPDATE 3/21/2011: Alas, Sharpe did not advance to the finalist stage in the competition.

A closer look at Pops March 11, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Food, Gas stations.
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Here’s a very good slide show about Pops in Arcadia, Okla., with an interview with general manager Marty Doepke.

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